Monday, May 20, 2019

Large sculptural piece - untitled

I have been working on this piece on and off for four years. I have had the stone pieces much longer and previously I had cast a model of the stone pieces in plaster and carved a similar composition to the one I have now in stone. The composition consists of flowers , a type of lily. But I didn´t want the piece to be too figurative but rather just some natural form that looked fluid.

Some of my colleagues in the workshop thought it looked more like maize than flowers and that´s cool aswell as I had been thinking on the work of  Diego Rivera while working on the piece and my intention was to capture that type of fluidity Rivera has in his fantastic Murals.

The drawing will give you an idea of what I wish to achieve although I am still not completely sure how the final composition will look.

The center and outer pieces are cast in clear resin .

While I love the finish of clear resin when it work out well the process is a killer. It´s toxic , long and laborios. For the central piece above I had to make several silicone molds for the long strips of resin with pigment and another set of silicone molds to go across ways. This was due to the fact that the strips are very fragile and could not be cut to fit the mold. After this a shellac mold was made to creat the shape above and the resin was poured in a series of layers. The process of mixing the catalyst and resin creates an endothermic reaction which results in a slight ´shrinking´of the resin form. 

When the resin has set it´s best to leave for a number of weeks and let it dry completely. After this tit has to be sanded with a huge amount of different graded paper and finally polished with wax a buff brushes. 

The final resin piece is quite strong but prone to chipped or like glass will break easily. I have similar pieces before but this time I wanted all the elements to have a soft finish and the hanging and framing to be completely in wood. Using Japanese traditional methods of framing I began to work on how the pieces might hang.

I finally decided on a system of wooden dowls on which the resin
pieces would rest pinned a a four centimeter distance from the wooden back support.

With the two stone pieces I began by using an angle grinder to cut out a basic shape of the desired composition and after this I used a an air pressured chisel. This is quite dangerous with such a soft material such as sandstone so after a short period I began carving in the traditional method of hand chisel and hammer. 

Each time the treatment of carving in the sandstone becomes more delicate. I started with a metal hammer and chisel and even that became a little too much for the stone so I made myself a wooden hammer from an old chair I found in the basement of Tabacalera.

 The piece is starting to take shape and I am now thinking they´re maybe two versions , one in sandstone and another in concrete once I have made molds in silicone. I think that the grey blue tint of the concrete will marry better with the blue of the resin strips.I intention is to get these pieces finished by the end of June and exhibit them along with other pieces at Tabacalera in Lavapies.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Tetsuya Ishida - Self portrait of another 1973- 2005 - Museo Reina Sofia Madrid.

Tetsuya Ishida ( 1973- 2005)

Autorretrato de otro ( self portrait of another)

Bea and myself came across this exhibition by chance in The Palacio de Velaquez which is located in the Retiro park in Madrid.

An extensive of a young but disillusioned Japanese artist struggling to express and live in an all consuming Japan.

The prolific artist portrays feelings of his society in a sometimes super realistic style and other times it seems more deliberately illustrative. The message is always the same which the sense of being a bar code or a machine whos destiny is already mapped out suffocating all human emotion.
It´s highly critical and tragic with the eyes seemingly lost in a vacant stare sometimes buoyed in tears.

Working as a security guard at night he lived only to paint very rarely venturing from his apartment for social events. He either worked or painted even moving close to a large art supply store so he would not have to waste money on the commute.

In a way I felt bad  enjoying something that portrayed such sadness and despair. But the paintings and their technical execution I found incredibly inspiring. The painting above is quite flat in it´s composition pushing the participants together in a smothering performance similar to the act of a funeral procession in Japanese culture. This is not a human but rather a returned rejected ´model´from the factory 1996. 

Karòshi is the word used in Japan literally describing death by work. What is most tragic of all is that possibly the artist himself suffered the same end dying very young in suspicious circumstances. 

Due to the short lived but prolific life of the artist there are seventy paintings and sketches in this moving and poetic display curated through the Reina Sofia Museum.You can´t help feeling this sense of entrapment in a world that´s not his like the painting above titled ´The Soldier 1996´. To me it´s like a kid enclosed both in the uniform of ´The salary man´ and locked into the urbanization of it´s minions.

The above again struck me with a sense of lost childhood and shackled within a machine unable to think or fly by yourself. Entitled ´A person who can no longer fly 1996´. Tetsuya Ishida has become a cult figure in his native Japan with only ten years of a career portraying a Kafkan surrealism that stays with you long after the sun has set in the Retiro. 

Untitled 1996

Friday, December 14, 2018

Arco 2017

Again it's been a while since I've put anything on the blog due to other commitments and stuff so I'll start by going back to Arco 2017 and some of the art that interested me. 

Above is a piece by the South African artist Kendall Geers who came from a working class Afrikaan backround and grew up during apartheid. At fifteen he got involved in the anti -  apartied movement. Later he publicily refused to serve in the South AfricanDefence Force which lead to his exile from Africa not returning until the release of Mandela in 1990.

He rejected everything that his family and society stood for. He changed his name and his date of birth to May 1968 which was the birth of the civil rights movement.It´s struck me straight away even though I knew nothing about the artist at the time. Simple but complex design or assemblage, like something from the hunger games. Maybe because in Spain also in the past years there has been so many demonstrations that the sight of a truncheon is something I´m immediately drawn to or am familiar with. 

Los Carpinteros - KOW - Madrid - Havana

This was probably the first piece in the show that really drew my attention painted in such exactitude but very fresh. I do love a good technical drawing and also the scale is impressive. 

Los Carpinteros established themselves in the 1990s as a collective of two and later three artists Marco Castillo Valdes , Dagoberto Rodríguez Sanchez and Alex Jesús Arrechea Zambrano although with Spanish names it looks like a gang. 

Talking a name like the carpenters associates with a more artisan approach such as is shown in the fine painting above and also in the subject matter. A light spatial aerial structure in wood beautifully painted in a delicate medium. And a symbolic image of the 20th century. In addition to such wonderful sculptures ( I am sure the image above was made by the group before being painted ) they also produce videos where they present the twerks in a society in which everyone is apparently equal and void of class divide.

The ´carpenters` in English reflect on the social transformations taking place in Cuba by probing the relationship between form and function through wit and craftsmanship. In addition to beautifully realised sculptures, and drawings the group also produce video where they present the twerks in a society where everyone is apparently equal and is void of class divide.

Some works I liked for the simple freshness of idea and not essentially their aesthetic. Plastic is no doubt the cancer of out times and hopefully it´s omnipresence will soon be a thing of the past but it´s definitely of our age and it´s appearance even in a negative like this is so familiar that in a strange way it´s comforting. 

An then something like this , so pure and artisan.

These pieces of relief sculpture are carved from compressed styrofoam. I thought this could be a cool idea for resin pieces in the future using different pigments and making a mold in silicone first.

Angela De La Cruze

It´s not the first time this idea of pouring the pure form of paint into the present has been done but I felt in this case there was a very pure and sculptural element to the work. Reminiscent of seventy home interiors or something. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Recent additions in Tabacalera

I have noticed that the style of graffitti in La tabacalera has changed or better has modified. The styles seem more brash and there is just a little more drawing  or illustration elements. Lile the work of ALANIZ an Argentinian artist based in Berlin that´s the painting of the guy on the phone below the tree taken from a photo of the Argentinian president during the military coup.

The soltano (Basement) area of the building which is a catacomb of passageways with spaces on each side  which would have been storage areas for tobacco in the past has been recently upgraded a bit for fire and safety reasons. This has lead to a little renaissance of urban art and music in the establishment!

La Tabacalera has become a center point for urban art now in the city of Madrid and is gaining more and more recognition as the most successful ´autogestionada´ in Spain. In the recent regional elections in which  ´Ahora Madrid´  a new political party knocked the PP from in Mayorship which it had held for almost thirty years the party had held it´s meetings before in the center.The use of this free public amenity is allowing people to grow independantly from ground level ,very slowly though.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Arco 2015

This yearat at Arco I went with an artist friend Lucia who has gone also for the last five years or so and both of us came away impressed at what we say. Although sadly every year there is less sulpture the tactile and hands work was more present . Normally there is a huge amount of print and photography which bores me for the greater part.

It is true that art fairs in general cater in the wham bam factor which only excites when either its not expected or when on closer inspection your find craftsmanship and in that a quiter sense of time and contemplation.

This year I was looking more specifically for works that I could take inspiration from myself and that I could use to help me steer my own work in a different direction.Works that I found similarities to my work in the materials etc.

The piece that caught my attention was this piece by Daniel Verbis  - La metamorfosis 2014 

Its a pity that my camera is so crap but next year I will go with something better than just my phone.It may look easy to do (which I really like about it also) , but this is not easy and the artist has managed to keep a sense of immediacy and freshness as if at one point a magnet had had pulled all the pieces together, very pop!!

I thought this piece was really clever and again had a just made sense to it, like somebody had just found it, a readymade in cement,


Sunday, September 21, 2014

´The Arrival´- Fashion Art EU 2014 - To be exhibited at the European Parliement from 17/11/2014 - 15/05/201

Seamus Heaney – Irish poet 1939 – 2013

Poem – The Tollund Man (1973) and the poets reflections.

After being presented with this commission by The Fashion Art Institute Madrid and taking into
consideration that it will be exhibited in the European Parliament I felt it should reflect the work of
the Irish poet Seamus Heaney who passed away last year.

The exhibition will comprise of  twenty eight artist, one from each member state and the work should reflect in some way the culture of that country and it´s relation to the EEC.

- Commissioned by The Fashion Art Institute Madrid.

I took the poem ´The Tullond Man¨ from 1973, the same year that Ireland joined the EEC.
Leading from this poem I came across a talk that the poet gave in 1996 at Silkborg Museaum
where he described his childhood memories of the bog and how he remembered a neighbor
digging up an Irish Elk ‘which are things that are a great astonishment to a child’.

This struck me as something very poignant to both Ireland and Heaney himself. After reading a touching reflection on Seamus Heaney by the poet Theo Dorgan I felt my inspiration reinforced.

Dorgan writes art of Heaney is ¨ the art of retrieving a moment and holding it to the light of attention, turning it in the hand until it had revealed not just its many facets but deep truths breathing quiet and patient at the heart of the thing* ¨.

Theo Dorgan continues ¨ the art Heaney practiced, to be sure, was the art of poetry, but the
mother and medium of his art was memory¨.

What I became most aware of when reading Heaneys poems was of myself as an Irishman living in Spain. Heaney´s poems are internationally reputed but they are also quintessentially Irish.

While working on this project I came across a book I bought a number of years ago called ´The
arrival’ by Shaun Tan a second generation Asian immigrant of Australian citizenship. It portrays
the story of an immigrant and other short stories of other immigrants purely in pictorial form.

It’s a beautiful book and from this I took the image of the origami bird to represent the immigrant.The birds are painted onto the bottom part of the dress and connected to some of  the branches or roots on the top part of the dress.

I had not intended to actually write the verses of  ´The Tullond Man´ onto the dress but as I began to paint on the birds and attach the branches it just seemed to make sense.

I feel that the text along with the branches makes the piece more tactile and more curious.

* Theo Dorgan – The Royal Hibernian Academy Annual show catalogue 2014.

I would like to give a very special thank you to 
two very good friends of mine Oscar Barrios and Juan Porres who collaborated with me on creating a video to document the making of the commission at La Tabacalera in Madrid.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Works at Colegio Amoros

For the past year I have been working at Colegio Amoros in the South of Madrid. This is a marianista college in the third year of an English Bilingual programme.

The school also teaches music, theatre and art through English and began to teach some workshops with the first of primary kids ( 6 - 7 years). With the decorations for ´Dive into the jungle ´ I cut out the props of a jungle scene and just let them go for it with several different classes applying numerous layers which gave a great intensity to the poster paint.

These classes can be mayhem but always enjoyable and I think this is a golden age with kids. They are so enthusiastic about everything but they are just getting old enough to work together and plan things a little bit. Later in the school year I had the opportunity to work again work the kids in the first of primary on a second project where I was able to use works that I had made the previous year in La Tabacalera (Madrid).

In August 2013 I had made an installation of five fullsize origami horses within a setting of a forest in part relating to a poem by Robert Forst and in other parts to personal experiences. The process of making the horses and the setting and the desired result was to be a physical one in a visual sense. I envisioned this installation in a large window front to viewed from the streetin an ambient setting with the aid of good lighting. But like any type of origami the process was very physical and with the kids we began a series of simple origami classes although this proved difficult because they were a little young.I was thinking on the theme of horses and how the native american Indians would print their hands onto their horses as decoration and thought this could be a away where the students could becaome part of the project a take ownership of the horses to a degree. This worked out much better.

Only three of the horses were used in  this way and after the workshops the horses were arranged in an open area in the grounds of the school in preparation for the National meeting of the Marianistas of Spain ( Jornadas de profesores marianistas de primaria de España)  which was held in Amoros this year on the 26 & 27th of June. With the help of the other Auxiliar teachers and Alejandra the head of the English department we set up the horses on a very hot afternoon.

Possibly in the future drawings of the installation may be used to develop a ´proyecto ayuda ` event to raise money for Marianista colleges in the South of Spain which are in need of financial assistance. These ´help projects´ are run at different times during the year in every marianista  College , it might be a sports event, or cooking or selling badges on St Patricks day or whatever to generate some needed income for distressed schools.